Sunny Gardens: Your Gain, Our Loss

Jun 15th, 2012
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  1. >”Stawigh' haf owwies! Meanie fwuffy take nummies! Mommy hewp!”
  2. ”Damn it, Felix, how many times do I have to tell you to stop being such a jerk?”
  3. >You take the stubborn green unicorn out of the big playpen and over to the sorry box.
  4. >”Nuuuu! Fewiss sowwy, Fewiss no wan' sowwy-box, pwease no!”
  5. ”Should have thought about that before you snatched Starlight's apple.”
  6. >You drop the crying Felix in and set the egg timer.
  7. >”Nuuuu, pwease no weave in sowwy-box! Fewiss sowwy, Fewiss sowwy!”
  8. “Oh, calm down. You'll live.”
  9. >You are Lucy, and you love fluffy ponies.
  10. >So much so that you run this little fluffy shelter by yourself.
  11. >It sounds a lot harder than it actually is; not many people drop off strays these days.
  12. >Not many strays to drop off. It's the middle of summer; poor things bake to death.
  13. >You've got about twenty fluffies here now.
  14. >Most of these are pets that outgrew their cuteness.
  15. >It breaks your heart when they whine about their mommies and daddies.
  16. >Starlight, the soft pink pegasus currently in your arms, is terrible about this.
  17. >Almost every morning when you come in, she's at the door of her cage crying.
  18. >She had a dream about her owner, woke up, then started bawling when he wasn't there.
  19. >She's called you mommy ever since.
  20. >”Why meanie a'ways take appa? Stawigh' wuv appa...”
  21. >You walk back to the front desk, setting the sniffling pegasus on the top.
  22. >She loves to watch the cars go by out the glass front of the building.
  23. “We'll set Felix straight eventually. Here, you want the rest of my Butterfinger?”
  24. >”Yay! Stawigh' wuv mommy! Mommy gif bes' nummies!”
  25. >You listen to the ambient noise while you continue to deal with the monthly bills.
  26. >Starlight's cooing about the shiny cars going by dominates the atmosphere.
  27. >Behind you, in the huge pen, the other fluffies play.
  28. >Felix cannot stand it.
  29. >”Fewiss wan' out! Fewiss wan' pway baww, wan' huggies! Pwease wet out!”
  30. >”Fewiss bad fwuffy, hooman say so, no pway! Fewiss be nice fwuffy, den get pway!”
  31. >That's the voice of Slate, a big blue male earth fluffy that serves as the 'smarty friend' of your shelter's 'herd'.
  32. >He acts as your fluffy enforcer, ensuring good behavior when you're out or busy with a potential adopter.
  33. >Not many of those about, either.
  34. >You've had these twenty fluffies for at least a month now, and they're beginning to get agitated.
  35. >Some, like Slate and Starlight, have been here since Feburary, Christmas gifts no longer wanted by their owners.
  36. >”When time fo' daddy?” Lucent suddenly asks, leaning on the side of the pen.
  37. >Lucent is a gorgeous white unicorn mare with a glittering blue mane.
  38. >She had the good life once, and she hasn't forgotten it.
  39. >”Miss daddy! Wan' daddy come, take Wucen' wif! Wan' huggies fwom daddy!”
  40. “I'm sorry, Luce, I don't know when you'll get a new daddy.”
  41. >The other fluffies stop playing and huddle together, looking sad.
  42. >They know that applies to them too.
  43. >Only Starlight, distracted by the cars, maintains her mood.
  44. >She's humming an inane little song.
  45. >With a long sigh, you turn back to the bills.
  46. >Fluffy food. Special litter. Toys. New beds to replace soiled ones. Shots. Grooming.
  47. >Financially, you're okay, but your parents don't care for your choice of occupation.
  48. >They can deal with it. You're doing the thing you love.
  49. >The doorbell startles you out of your thoughts.
  50. >”Wow, this place looks a lot better than the municipal shelter,” the man says.
  51. >He's in a suit. A red BMW is parked out front.
  52. >Good feeling about this one.
  53. >”New fwiend?” Starlight asks as he approaches the desk.
  54. “Welcome to Sunny Gardens! And, yeah, I make sure the place is clean. I'm Lucy.”
  55. >He shakes your hand. “My daughter is dying for a fluffy. Figure it could be a nice chance to teach her some responsibility.”
  56. >You carry Starlight over to the pen and set her in.
  57. >Every single fluffy is begging to be picked, including Felix.
  58. >”Why's that one in the box?”
  59. “It's the fluffy pony equivalent of a time out. He's fine.”
  60. >You explain the three types of fluffy pony while you move Felix back into the pen.
  61. >Pegasus ponies are fragile and quick.
  62. >Great care must be taken to ensure they don't jump off things.
  63. >Unicorns can make sparks from their horns.
  64. >These are usually harmless, but they can startle non-fluffy pets and small children.
  65. >Earth ponies are relatively stout, but eat a bit more than the others.
  66. >Their stubbornness can make them difficult to deal with.
  67. >The man nods as you talk, looking over the fluffies in the pen.
  68. >They are so desperate to hug him.
  69. >You stand aside, allowing him space to make his choice.
  70. >He gently picks up Lucent.
  71. >”Daddy? Daddy wuv Wucen'? Go wif daddy, huggies? Wuv?”
  72. >”God, she's going to give me diabetes. I'll take this one.”
  73. >Lucent trembles with joy in the man's arms while he fills out the paperwork.
  74. >After he pays the fee and starts to leave, the other fluffies react instintctively at first.
  75. >”Nuuuuu! No take fwiend Wucen'!” Felix cries.
  76. >”Gif back fwiend, no take! No take 'way!” begs a dark yellow pegasus named Flame.
  77. >By the time he's out the door, they realize what just happened.
  78. >”No! Daddy! Daddy! No weave Stawigh'! Pwease take wif! No weave! No weaaaaaaaave!” she shrieks, collapsing into a sobbing pile.
  79. >The rest of the herd closes on her in a hug, including Felix.
  80. >”No cwy wingie cwy...daddy come soon, daddy take aww fwuffies.”
  81. >That's Slate talking. He's crying too.
  82. >So are you, in fact.
  83. >You're happy that Lucent got a home, surely, but the reactions of those left behind...
  84. >They always get to you.
  85. >“Daddy no wan' Stawigh'...”
  86. >You pet her on the head while the herd tries to comfort her.
  87. >Look up at the clock.
  88. >Not even noon yet.
  89. >If Starlight doesn't feel better soon, you're going to run out of tissues before lunch.
  90. >You leave the fluffy clump to huddle and get back to paying bills.
  91. >You'll have to walk down to the post office for some of these, but you're unwilling to leave with Starlight feeling so bad.
  92. >Pay what you can online for now.
  93. >”Fewiss sowwy, Stawigh' can haf Fewiss' appa when appa come 'gain...”
  94. >You smile broadly, but don't turn to face the pen.
  95. “Good boy, Felix.”
  96. >”Wes pway wif Stawigh' an' Fewiss, make fwiends happy,” Slate says, breaking up the clump and fetching the red ball.
  97. >Slate has such tact for a fluffy.
  98. >Hell, more than some humans you know.
  99. >You watch them play for a while; they nose the ball back and forth, giggling wildly.
  100. >You're worried. Fluffies are desperately social creatures.
  101. >Without a human to completely attach to, they need large numbers of peers to feel comfortable.
  102. >Nineteen fluffies is just barely enough. You're happy that Lucent got adopted, you really are.
  103. >If people don't start dropping off strays to replace the losses, though...
  104. >You're going to end up with eighteen more Starlights on your hands.
  105. >There aren't enough tissues in the world for that.
  106. >You'll cross that bridge when you get to it.
  107. >Right now, Flame is babbling about lunch. The others begin to follow suit.
  108. >You get ready to make the trip to the diner down the street.
  109. “Slate, keep everyone in line until I get back, okay?”
  110. >He nods. “Swate be suwe aww fwuffies good. Fwuffies be good when nice hooman come 'gain.”
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